Archive for the ‘widgets’ Category

Holy Grail of Digital Video and its presence and sharing on the web

March 16, 2008

Video is a media form that includes both moving pictures and sound. As a result it is multi modal and provides a rich sensory experience that grabs the attention of the viewer through the orienting effect.

It is also the most demanding media type in terms of CPU, memory and storage utilization. There are many encoding schemes to reduce the size of the video. Even within the same family of the encoding scheme there are incompatibilities. This causes problems when digital video is shared across different software systems and different computer systems.

Video Encoding and problems with multiple formats

I have some old videos that were taped in a live class room setting. We used Sony DV camcorder when it just came out in mid nineties. These tapes were captured by using theMiro video encoder that uses a non-lossy 5:1 compression scheme and uses the standard dvd size picture per frame. This process creates large files. We are looking at 100meg of data for one minute of play back time. Therefore, these files were further compressed using the MS Windows media encoder, real media encoder, Apple quick time encoder and sometimes with mpeg-1 encoder. This helps but now we have five different files that will play on some computers and some stopped playing when the encoding scheme became obsolete by the same company.

Recently, I decide to re encode these files with newer encoders. I do not have the original masters because those were too big and they were erased to free up disk space because disk space was not as inexpensive back then as it is now. The windows media format looses too much information so once a original is encoded with wmv format it is not worth to resurrect this file for further encoding. It is final no future editing is expected. Also, if you upload it to a service like youtube some of them failed to convert at the youtube web site into flv format used by Youtube. Having all these problems I went back to the saved files in apple .mov format. They had the most information and re encoded them into mpeg-1 format with audio amplification because for some reason the original videos had low sound volume. Every thing worked and I was able to upload these files on the Youtube.

This solved the problem of sharing videos but is it complete solution? No? I also wanted to upload these videos at Apple University because they have a very innovative solution in the form of video ipod/iphone that facilitates m-learning. I got apple Qick Tme Pro and reencoded the videos with apple encoder so that these videos can play on apple devices that is desktop, ipod/iphone and old mobile phones. It created three separate files at different streaming rate but now for some reason these files have poor quality of audio again. I am working on it to improve it and it is possible but the question is that why does it has to be so much work to take a simple video from a Digital Video camera and encode it and place it on these video distribution channels so that it can be shared with others in my case mostly with the students in my classes and they can be commented  on. Why can’t we have a video editing program that acquires video, improves it and uploads it at all these channels? instead of having whole set of programs to do one specialized job.

It also raises the issues of archiving the information and future access to it. We can still read old clay tablets from the ancient times. Can we be able to do the same for digital information? The attempts of archiving digital information are very basic such as archive.org

Video Share ability , treating video as a social data

For example example I wanted to embed some digital videos from TED conference into my WordPress blog. The WordPress for some reason will not accept the flash videos and I could not do that. So I went to my old blog on the blogger and tried embedding these videos. It worked with one hitch. When you copy paste the html the blogger editor did not like the embed tag. It will complain and will not save the posting but you can also force the blogger editor to accept it if you just ignore the warning and close the warning window. It is hard to believe after 15 years we still have to use “Object” and “Embed” tag to deal with the incompatibilities between Internet Explorer and Firefox/Mozilla on how they load an application.

We can conclude that WordPress does not like embedded video but that is not true either. They allow video embedding and from some web sites you can embed video in your WordPress blog with one simple click on the shareable video. How does that happen? I am still trying to figure out. So far it seems to me that MyStuff from gigya.com is the best widget it has worked for me across all the web sites. Others claim that they allow one click embedding but so far it has not been true. They can made to work with some tweaking but not with one click as they claim.

Facebook allows you to import notes from one rss feed only. It polls the rss feed and if it detects any changes it will modify the notes accordingly. It is a nice feature but what if some one wants to import notes from two feeds? It could be done but not easily. Also, Facebook do not allow video embedding at all in the notes so the blogs with embedded video only show the text but no videos.

So the moral of the story is that if you like digital video and want to create your own videos and share it with other people across different computer platforms it will be a challenge. It is not as simple as sharing of some 7 bit ASCII text strings that are the easiest universally sharable data type.

Talking of programs Corel acquired Ulead and doubled the price of programs Ulead was selling successfully through it web site for a while. Now the Corel/Ulead web site is hard to navigate. You can not even find a phone number if some one needs a live salesperson. It is hard to believe that Corel is still in business and have money to acquire small successful innovative companies. If the consumer oriented companies dealt with their customers the way the software companies deal with their customers they will be out of business in no time but companies like Corel who will create software like  grafigo that I thought was  very innovative software and then failed to support it stay in business. Amazing.

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